In case you're wondering, Becky is not a documentary about the infamous Barbeque Becky, who notoriously called the cops on two black men for using an outdoor grill. Nor is it a biopic about Becky Lynch, the four-time women's champion in WWE. Instead, it is a home invasion thriller from co-directors Jonathan Milott and Cary Murnion that co-stars Kevin James as a Nazi-sympathizing convict. James opting to stray from comedic roles immediately raises eyebrows. James doing a 180 turn as a villain solicits total interest.

Co-written by Nick Morris, Lane Skye and Ruckus Skye, Becky (Lulu Wilson, Sharp Objects) is a teenager who's still grieving from her mother's death. Her pain is expressed through aggression as her relationship with her father Jeff (Community's Joel McHale) is strained. While Jeff has a family weekend with Becky, his new girlfriend Kayla (Amanda Brugel) and her son, Ty (Isaiah Rockcliffe), recently escaped convicts (Robert Maillet, Ryan McDonald, James McDougal) led by Dominick (James), arrive at Jeff and Becky's home and hold them hostage. It's up to Becky, who wasn't in the house when Dominick and his crew showed up, to save the day.

If nothing else, Becky will be remembered as the film where Kevin James played a neo-Nazi. He certainly looked the part – a full beard (which has him looking like he's ready to hunt) and a completely shaved head, revealing a swastika tattoo (as well as an assortment of other pro-Nazi graphics). And his ruthlessness is displayed early when he callously murders a man driving home with his two kids. That coldness is also a form of calm stoicism - a stark contrast to Becky, whose teenage angst is heightened because of her loss and the grave situation she's stuck in.

James is creepy, chilling and clearly in charge. He would also be considered imposing, but 7-foot, 350-pound Maillet easily takes that title (Maillet is a former WWF wrestler Kurrgan and was the giant baddie in Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes). Dominick, though, is limited by how he's written. James fleshes out and gives more nuance to the charcater, which is great because it's proof of his acting ability. But even with all the hate and experience James provides his character, Dominick's rival is a teenager whose anger is just as passionate as his.

Speaking of Becky - she is a newer version of Home Alone's Kevin MacAllister, just more vindictive and less playful. Whereas audiences laughed at the comically violent acts Kevin performed on his two would-be attackers (the Wet Bandits!), Becky wages a one-woman war on four men who have no idea what they're getting into. With the #metoo movement still fresh, it's not out of bounds to recognize Becky as centuries of repressed female anger unleashed upon representatives of toxic masculinity. So instead of a precocious boy having fun with cat burglars at their expense, Milott and Murnion offer a no-nonsense Alanis “You Oughta Know” Morrissette with a murderous side. In this case, advantage Becky, complete with grisly results blurring the line that separates good from evil.

Milott and Murnion follow in the footsteps of director Jeremy Saulnier (Blue Ruin, Green Room) – they provide stylish and extreme violence. One specific scene involves Dominick and a kitchen knife – audiences won't unsee what happens. That, along with the rest of the film, is provided by Milott and Murnion for shock value. Saulnier, on the other hand, has proven his gruesomeness comes from necessity, usually at the hands of people who aren't trained to kill (and are thus inept at doing so).

Although Becky's violence and grim tone elevate it from forgettable B-movie to interestingly violent thriller, it ultimately suffers from an unoriginal script full of reused tropes and mostly one-note roles. James and Wilson are good enough to elevate their characters, but they don't provide enough to push this into must-see territory.

2.5 stars out of 5


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